“What’s the deal with this endorsement thing?” She asked me. “Does it mean my son has to choose at 13 what he wants to study in college? How will this affect his chances at being admitted to a top-tier university?”
As the night went on, I heard this question repeated by other mothers, fathers, and even middle school counselors. It seems there is a real lack of clarity and information surrounding the new law (HB 5) in Texas. So, here is what we know and my best analysis for how this all will affect (or not affect) your child’s prospects as a college applicant. Read on!
What is HB 5?
House Bill 5 is a law passed by the Texas House in the 2013 legislative session aimed at reducing the time students spend taking benchmark tests, changing the accountability system used to evaluate schools, and revamping graduation requirements to give students more flexibility (this is where the endorsement part was added).
When will it take effect?
The new graduation requirements will take effect in the 2014-15 school year and will apply to students entering high school in that year. If your student is already enrolled, the old graduation requirements still apply. However, older students are able to take advantage of the endorsements (explained below) if they so choose.
What does this mean for my student and my student’s prospects for admission to college?
The idea behind adding in the endorsement specification was to help give students more flexibility and direction in their high school studies. The endorsement can be thought of as a “mini major” completed while in high school. Endorsements are selected in one of five areas: science and technology, business and industry, public services, humanities, or a multidisciplinary option. However, not all schools will offer each of the five endorsements.
When colleges view a student’s transcript, they are looking primarily at two things: which classes did a student take, and how did they perform in those classes? The added endorsement will not change your student’s strength or schedule or performance in the classes s/he has chosen, and thus it will not change the way colleges view your student. In fact, for a college bound high school student, the new endorsements do little to change the classes they would already select in preparation for college applications. Admittance to a competitive college still requires four years of science, three or four years of language, and three to four years of math. A selected endorsement will not impede or hinder progress toward college readiness. In other words, relax! The game’s still the same from the college point of view (at least for now!).
The Texas Tribune has a great article explaining the changes happeing under the new law, and a fun quiz to find out which endorsement is right for you. Try it out here.